John & Anne Wiley

2012/07/31

The Eye

Computers can’t yet distinguish things. Yet. So far, human face recognition is maybe their best game. But recognizing everyday things as most any two year old child can do, not so much. Cameras don’t see very well either, in human terms. OK sure, they can see vastly more detail and into the ultraviolet and infrared. But they don’t see. The human eye is really good at the things that matter most to us. But why do scenes like this draw my eye?

1313 Gulls & Buoys

1313 Gulls & Buoys

Is it the crowded emptiness of all those boats and no people? The colors and shapes? Memories of toy boats? The unusual perspective? The fact I once sailed on boats like these? Of course it looked different to my eye than to the camera and the computers we’re viewing the pic on. But what would a computer make of it? Or this one?

1314 Dredge Roost

1314 Dredge Roost

Keeping SB Harbor open requires pumping lots of sand onto East Beach, and though the boats might not like navigating past it the birds absolutely love all this space and have painted it white. So why did I snap it?

Moving objects draw the eye. Especially bright colors. So this was an easy one.

1318 Easy One

1318 Easy One

We’re usually talking to ATC while flying, and they tell us about “traffic.” The aviator’s word for other aircraft within a couple of miles. Often they’re hard to spot, especially if they’re the same color as the sky, their profile is small, and if the air’s a little hazy. It’s great having an idea where to look but this one half a mile away, bright red and moving across the landscape, was easy to spot. Given that everything’s moving, would a computer have spotted it as easily? Would a computer know what this next one is?

1310 Mission Creek Mouth

1310 Mission Creek Mouth

Why has my eye been drawn lately to the colors and shapes of this scene? Colors and forms for sure. Also the pipe that the sand travels from the Harbor to East Beach. The contrast of beach grasses. I didn’t notice from the air, but now I’m quite drawn to the palm tree shadows. Do such things sometimes move me to snap, not knowing why, and then jumping out at me looking at the pic later?

Many are predicting that within the next few decades people will have computers and cameras implanted and connecting their nervous systems with the Internet. What will life be like for people born into a world where everyone is hard wired? What will their “eye” be like? Will there still be an “I?”

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2012/07/29

Stone Stories?

Sometimes I’m curious what it is that draws me so strongly to some rock formations. True, I seem drawn to many if not most of them. That might simply be the universal human tendency to create stories. Studies of human intelligence tend to focus on two qualities that set us apart from other species, and one of those is our stories. So when rock formations like this draw me back again and again, maybe it’s because of the stories they stimulate in me.

1576 Story Impression

1576 Story Impression

On the large slab, there seem to be petroglyphs carved into the flat surface. I’ve never noticed them before, but now I wonder if a fleeting glimpse of them strengthened my urge to keep returning for another look. Maybe it’s some enchanting quality of the stones themselves, that drew both ancient peoples and me to visit there? I wondered looking at the first pic, if it’s just a play of light. So I looked at this slightly different angle on the same spot snapped a moment later, and the enigmatic shapes still show up.

1579 Perspective Shift

1579 Perspective Shift

But then I looked for pix from my other flights past the spot, and found this one snapped from much closer.

0424 Different Story

0424 Different Story

I can still see some of the shapes, but this detailed view magically transforms them into stories of life, weather, light and shadow as they dance with ancient stone that itself was once sand on an even more ancient beach. Maybe my urge to see human symbols there has the same origins as my own yearning to share the stories etched on this blog. Sharing where I was, what I did, what I saw and the effects Life had on me. It is this desire to create and share stories that distinguishes us from other intelligent animals, enabling us to teach and learn the things that produced technologies like space travel and the internet. …and airplanes like Tripp. 🙂

2012/07/27

The Wall

Somehow I missed the rock climbing craze. Maybe it caught on just after I started turning away from thrill activities. The last big thrill thing before flying, might have been the time I swam out thru 10′ surf breaking over boulders to go a mile offshore of Maui for a brief swim with a basking Humpback whale and calf. But that’s another story. Rock climbing is pretty mainstream now, with fake training rocks & climbing walls indoors and even featured in college sport complexes to attract students. One of the first drives we took after moving to SB was up Gibraltar road, where we saw this cool rock wall next to the road.

1285 Gibraltar Wall

1285 Gibraltar Wall

We often see climbers there when driving by, and once even spotted some in an aerial pic (pretty much impossible to spot them from the air by eye). As with so many rock outcrops in our mountains, these have lots of recesses that have probably been used by humans going back to ancient times.

1284 Zoning Change

1284 Zoning Change

Now rather than temporary shelter, this magnificent area is for sport. With some adaptation (maybe a basketry floor & overhang), many of the recesses could be cozy places for sleep. Bottom-left, top-right and middle right could be good candidates. I wonder if anyone ever spends the night here these days. Speaking of which, in this last pic you can see people chilling on top. Pretty good view I’ll bet.

1286 High Hang Out

1286 High Hang Out

What might it have been like to spend the night up there? Imagine the effort to reach it from the valley, when game trails were probably the “easiest” way. At least an arduous all-day climb. I like to daydream about what their experience was. Maybe like the contrast between driving there vs. scrambling up the back side from the road, or riding a whale watching boat vs. a difficult and dangerous two mile swim. Part of the value we derive from an experience can be in the “wall” we have to climb. Still, I love flying even tho the walls (aside from getting a license, and some expense) are vanishing small.

2012/07/26

Play House

As a kid I was fascinated by doll houses. Nothing about the dolls, but the creative architecture and little details. On one of our Big Adventures we flew into Chicago, and a museum there had an astounding collection of doll houses. But I digress. As a young adult living in the northwest I was thrilled to discover that grown-ups could create houses with imaginative designs and cool little details. In fact, I eventually built one. But again you may be wondering where this is leading. Well, on a local flight I noticed this place in Santa Ynez Valley.

1245 Dream Land

1245 Dream Land

Now the Neverland Ranch once made fanciful by Michael Jackson is only a few miles from here, and it’s easily more fanciful. But this place has lots of creativity and cool details. Not just the shape of that pond, the house itself, or the flower garden with fountain. Check out the grand old oak with a stone path to it.

1245 Tree House

1245 Tree House

Maybe there’s a secret entrance to an underground Hobbit house that pops up out of the grass at the end of the stone stairs. Some residual Peter Pan in me wonders if that might be a hollow trunk with another entrance. Aside from all that, doesn’t it seem there just has to be at least a wooden platform tree fort up inside the stout branches? My fave feature tho is what appears to be an old water tower converted to a “fort” for grown up kids.

1245 Tower Fort

1245 Tower Fort

How cool is that?! Some people imagine a place like this – and then build it. Having created a life beyond what I could even dream, places like this resonate strongly with my value of a Life Lived. While most people emphasize stability and conformity, my heart is ever drawn to expressions of imaginative playfulness. Flying as a form of Joyful Adventure and Exploration, for example. 🙂

2012/07/25

Unknown Lands

Flying makes the familiar unknown. Not just the fact that it’s almost impossible at first for most people to figure out what familiar landmarks they’re looking at. Everything just looks so different from a quarter mile up. But there’s also the fact that few people have followed every road in their familiar territory. So it is that we discovered this beautiful “unknown” farm in an area we’ve flown over many times.

1235 Paradise Nearby

1235 Paradise Nearby

Tucked into the trees, it’s a restful retreat amid the fields and nearby hills. Despite many flights to Lompoc, we’d never noticed this area.

1228 Lompoc Lakes

1228 Lompoc Lakes

How many times have we flown over or driven past this farm house sheltering from the winds in a huddle of trees that also filters out the whoosh of cars passing.

1238 Huddle

1238 Huddle

Not far away a hacienda crouches among sweeping hills and rolling vineyards, blending amiably with the terrain in homage to past centuries.

1239 Compatibility

1239 Compatibility

Yes, flying offers an invitation to wander and explore not just the familiar. Flying intimately with the earth at an easy pace can lift you effortlessly into the unknown.

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